2019 Hawaii Legislative Session Highlights

After the 2019 legislative session concluded with progress and some missed opportunities on cancer policies, your ACS CAN Hawaii Pacific team would like to share with you the measures we worked on that passed the legislature.  Both measures are now awaiting action by the Governor.  Thank you to all our partners, volunteers, and supporters who helped advocate for these issues.


Palliative Care Pilot Program — Senate Bill 804

Numerous studies show that palliative care significantly improves patient quality of life and lowers symptom burden. Palliative care has a team approach that utilizes clinicians, physicians, nurses, social workers, and chaplains who work with the person facing serious illness and their loved ones. There have been misunderstandings about palliative care and it has often been confused with hospice and end-of-life care. Hospice, which is provided only when there is a six month or less diagnosis and once curative treatments have stopped, is only one type of palliative care.


Senate Bill 804 will provide funding over two years for a palliative care pilot program. This pilot program would aim toward allowing palliative care to be accessible for all Hawaii residents by promoting cultural competency among our health professionals. A consistent finding of various studies on palliative care show that culturally competent palliative and hospice training is a promising practice to increase patient, family, and provider engagement with conversations to ensure that cancer patients have the highest quality of life during the entire duration of their treatment.


Liver Cancer Appropriation — House Bill 654

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, Hawaii has had the highest or second highest rate of liver cancer in the country in recent years. Persons who have chronic inflammation of the bile ducts have an increased risk of developing bile duct cancer. House Bill 654 appropriates funds to the University of Hawaii Cancer Center to determine whether liver fluke infection, aflatoxin ingestion, or intrahepatic bile duct dilation are casuing Hawaii's high rate of liver and bile duct cancer.